Phone scammers are a devious bunch and they use a variety of tactics to trick vulnerable people into giving them money and personal information.
Often, phone scammers will attempt to panic a victim into paying by claiming that the victim owes money for taxes, fines, utility bills, or other unexpected fees. The scammers may be very threatening and may even claim that the victim will be arrested and jailed if payment is not made.
In other cases, the scammers may claim that the victim has won a lottery or is eligible for a tax refund or a large cash grant from a government agency or other organisation. But, the scammers will claim that the victim must pay various fees upfront before the funds can be sent to them.
In many cases, the scammers demand that the victim provide credit card details to make the supposed payments. Alternatively, they may instruct the victim to go out and purchase a pre-paid debit card and then call back with the card details.
And, increasingly, scammers are insisting that victims provide iTunes Gift Card codes as a means of payment.
Here’s how the iTunes Gift Card scams generally play out:
1: The victim gets a call from a scammer who invents a cover story like those mentioned above and warns that the victim must make an immediate payment or face dire consequences.
2: The scammer insists that the victim pays with iTunes Gift Cards and instructs him or her to hang up, go out and buy some of the cards at the nearest retail outlet, and then call back.
3: When the victim calls back, the scammer will ask for the 16-digit code on the back of the iTunes cards.
4. The scammer can then use the card code to purchase goods and services on the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or for an Apple Music membership.
Scammers are using this method because iTunes Gift Card purchases cannot be easily traced back to offenders. If victims pay using the cards, it will usually be impossible for them to get their money back.
Keep in mind that iTunes Gift Cards can ONLY be used to purchase goods and services on the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, or for an Apple Music membership.
Any call that wants you to pay a supposed debt or fine using an iTunes card is certain to be a scam. No legitimate entity will ever ask that you make a payment using iTunes Gift Cards. If you receive such a call, just hang up.
Apple has published information about these scams on its website.
Note that scammers may sometimes demand that people pay with other types of store gift cards as well as iTunes cards.
People familiar with computers and the Internet may find it difficult to understand how anyone could fall for a scam that demanded payment via iTunes Gift Cards.
But, keep in mind that there are still many people who do not have a computer at home and have only a rudimentary knowledge of the Internet and online payment systems.
They will no doubt have seen displays of iTunes Gift Cards in various stores without having any real understanding of what the cards are actually for. So, a clever phone scammer may be able to easily convince them that the iTunes cards are a new and safe way to make payments over the phone.
If you have less tech-savvy relatives, friends, or neighbours who you think may be vulnerable to such scams you may want to take a few minutes to bring them up to speed.
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!